From John the Evangelist to John of the Cross

From John the Evangelist to John of the Cross

"What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

(Jn 1:4-5)


We find the same spiritual path in the Gospel of John, or with detailed analysis in the writings of Saint John of the Cross. And Our Lady of Mount Carmel is indeed the same mother of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of John.


That Saint John of the Cross had his roots in the Gospel of John is sometimes made evident by a direct quotation, but more often it is through a common spirit.


At the beginning of the "Ascent of Mount Carmel," Saint John of the Cross evokes Saint John's Prologue:


"Wherein is declared how necessary it is for the soul truly to pass through this dark night of sense, which is mortification of desire, in order that it may journey to union with God. The reason for which it is necessary for the soul, in order to attain to Divine union with God, to pass through this dark night of mortification of the desires and denial of pleasures in all things, is because all the affections which it has for creatures are pure darkness in the eyes of God, and, when the soul is clothed in these affections, it has no capacity for being enlightened and possessed by the pure and simple light of God, if it first cast them not from it; for light cannot agree with darkness; since, as Saint John says: Tenebroe eam non comprehenderunt. (Jn 1:5). That is: The darkness could not receive the light. The reason is that two contraries (even as philosophy teaches us) cannot coexist in one person."

Saint John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel I, 4

There is a "nothing" and an "everything":


[Jesus told the disciples:] "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing."

(Jn 15: 5)

"And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

(Jn 14: 13)


"Any soul that makes account of all its knowledge and ability in order to come to union with the wisdom of God is supremely ignorant in the eyes of God and will remain far removed from that wisdom."

Saint John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel I, 4


If then on the common land

I am no longer seen or found,

You will say that I am lost;

That, being enamored,

I lost myself; and yet was found.

Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle XXIX


One should not renounce everything in order to gain everything, but for the joy of God, for the benefit of the Other:

In the Gospel of John, St John the Baptist says:

"The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete."

(Jn 3: 27-29)


Jesus is the way:

Saint John the Evangelist transmited to us this radical statement:

"I am the way, the truth and the life."

(Jn 14: 6)

Saint John of the Cross insisted that Jesus is our way, and that one must follow him in step.

In Your footsteps

The young ones run Your way;

At the touch of the fire

And by the spiced wine,

The divine balsam flows.

Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle XXV


Mediations exist, but one must detach oneself from human supports:

Saint John the Baptist was a mediation, since he pointed out Christ to the first disciples. Once those disciples started following Christ, John Baptist left the front of the scene:

"He must increase; I must decrease. The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things."

(Jn 3 : 30-31)

In the spiritual life, we always find humans mediations.

When the heart is pure, it knows that creatures can only be mediations.

Such is the Gospel message as well as Saint John of the Cross' message:

"The affection and attachment which the soul has for creatures renders the soul like to these creatures ... (Ps 113: 8)

He that loves a creature becomes as low as that creature, and, in some ways, lower; for love not only makes the lover equal to the object of his love, but even subjects him to it. [...]

There is naught good, save only God. (Lk 18:19) And therefore the soul that sets its heart upon the good things of the world is supremely evil in the eyes of God. And, even as wickedness comprehends not goodness, even so such a soul cannot be united with God, Who is supreme goodness."

Saint John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel I ,4



In solitude she lived,

And in solitude built her nest;

And in solitude, alone

Has the Beloved guided her,

In solitude also wounded with love.

Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle XXXV


From an adaptation by F. Breynaert

The biblical quotations are taken from the New American

The quotations of Saint John of the Cross are taken from: Christian Classics, Ethereal Library